Dead Monkeys

The internet seems to be aflame with the dead Gorillas story. The story seems to be a 3-4 year old boy somehow slipped away from his mother and climbed into the Gorilla cage in the zoo. The Gorilla got close to the animal and the zookeepers shot it dead.

A heady mixture of:-
1. we love animals
2. bad mother!
So for many people an innocent animal has been killed and the mother is responsible.

Neither of these points really stack up in my mind.

Firstly we don't love animals. We treat them like shit and it is accepted, totally accepted. In fact it is regarded as pretty weird if you do care much about animals - beyond the odd pet. Had her son slipped off and bought a beefburger no-one would have condemned her, although this would surely have contributed to the death of a cow. I suppose you might argue a gorilla is more intelligent than a cow, but I have no way of being sure. Maybe the gorilla is rarer, which makes some sense to me. But to value an animal on how rarity is different to how we value people. It is exactly how we value objects, and it might be akin to smashing a beautiful work of art - tragic but hardly a violation of the objects rights. And it seems odd that rights depend on how rare you are anyway. Human rights are generally regarded as indivisible, animals have to share them around(perhaps with bonus rights for being more like humans).

Secondly the bad mother argument is based on the one minute she took her eye off the child. Perhaps not the other four years in which she might possible have done a very good job. There is not enough information to tell. The baseline assumption has to be that someone is at least an average mother though, I don't think that losing sight of a child for a couple of minutes is that bad. I have certainly done it.

Perhaps her big downfall was not to show some kind of remorse, presumably because she was more worried about her son. Had she been able to afford a PR firm they might have advised her to combine gratitude with sorrow. As it was all the selfish, neglectful bitch could feel was happy her son was alive.

I am sorry that the Gorilla had to die, and that the zoo failed to adequately carry out what ought to have been in primary duty to protect the safety of its visitors and staff. Also sad that gorillas have to live in zoos to be safe, although it is quite hard to condemn people from eating bushmeat whilst eating a chicken and bacon sandwich.

I guess I feel a bad for the mother and worse for the people who are signing petitions and dedicating facebook groups calling for her to be punished. At worst she made a mistake, if you are sitting down and hating someone for their mistakes then it does not say much about your charity or compassion. I guess these are the types of people who burned witches or jews - hating because they are told to hate and the rest of the crowd is doing it.

I didn't hear about that case. But it remains me a few days ago, in my country there was a man who was in a zoo too, in the lions cage.
The man was naked and entered in the cage to  suicide himself by let him as meet to the lions. When the people saw the man, the guards shot the lions trying to save him. After they took the man out, they found in the clothes a suicide note...

And it began all the same discussion.... the guards who acted without knowing the situation of the man, the lions that are dead and weren't guilty, the right of life. .. etc....

"Had her son slipped off and bought a beefburger no-one would have condemned her"

Oh mate - if he had slipped off to buy a burger and put himself in danger, then plenty would have...

"Child evades sight to buy burger and returns unharmed" would not have been reported, because it isn't news. If you're approaching a dangerous situation with somebody who is in your care, then you have a duty to be more vigilant than you otherwise would be.

That's a false argument; plenty of people accept the murder of cows every day because they're carnivores and it's for a purpose... If you eat meat, then you know what the deal is. If you go to a zoo to see the animals, you don't 'expect' a gorilla to get shot - especially if it could've been prevented with a bit more parental care.

I wouldn't go as far as to call her a bad mother, but she should definitely have taken more care, and should be prosecuted for her negligence (as should the zoo, if the fences weren't high enough.)

Losing sight of a child for a couple of minutes is 'bad', depending on where you are at the time, and the relative consequences that ensue.

Nowhere would I use the word 'hate' - but maybe if she faces reprimand it will remind her to exercise more caution the next time a potentially dangerous situation is afoot... Child endangerment and neglect laws exist for a reason; I'm not saying unequivocably that they apply here, but it's a fair bet that they could do.

So basically animals only have value in so far as they meet or exceed the expectations of human beings? I suspect there is some truth in and so maybe it is sad because the true purpose of the gorilla was to be watched by humans in a fake natural environment rather than being shot. But then I struggle to see any more argument against gorillas as bushmeat, for some people presumably that is a gorillas purpose.

The zoo is clearly legally negligent towards the child, as it had a duty of care. I doubt that she can be prosecuted for negligence which is a tort(anyway she has no money) and so it is likely to be child neglect instead. Unless there is a pattern of child abuse or neglect I am not too sure what the point would be.

Maybe she did make a mistake, but it is a pretty common one. Most zoos, theme parks, festival have places where lost children can be picked up or dropped off. I suspect the need for these is because kids quite often disappear. She also had four children, so should could not really have reined them all together or put them in a pushchair.
Yeah; it might be a cynical and horrible way to look at it, but I expect that's how a lot of people feel... We're at the top of the evolutionary scale, so we get to call the shots (no pun intended).

Did the zoo have signs up warning people not to get too close or to scale the fences, etc? I don't know the answer, but if they did then the mother should have been capable of reading and understanding, if not the kid... If they didn't, then the zoo are even more responsible than they already are due to poor safety measures.

There's a big difference though between 'losing' a kid when you're on the main thoroughfare, and losing a kid when you're approaching an enclosure that houses dangerous animals... One would have thought that the latter would ensure people had their guard against accident higher than normal...

Yeah, four children is a big handful, and if that's the case, then I have more sympathy for her... Maybe if it's a struggle to manage you should bring more adults with you, but it's easy to have hindsight after the fact.

I suspect that more fuss is being made, because instead of being contrite after the fact, she insisted that 'God' had saved her child... Personally my thanks would extend more towards the zookeepers... but anybody who invokes God in times of extreme parenting lapses earns my immediate skepticism... Even if He/She/It exists, we were granted Free Will, remember? That just seems like a handy catch all excuse to absolve us of our own failings.

Edited at 2016-06-01 04:03 pm (UTC)
my social media pages are bursting at the seams with commentary about this issue. my thoughts are: why did the zoo have an enclosure that was so easy for a 4-year-old to fall into? nobody (child or adult) should be able to get into an area where a potentially dangerous animal is housed.

it's a shame the gorilla had to die, but (as i saw someone else point out) if they had tranquilized it, it may have a) taken too long for the tranqs to take effect and the gorilla could have harmed the child in the meantime or b) it could have collapsed on the child, crushing them, when it passed out.

i'm a pretty crazed animal person, and i'm not a fan of zoos to be honest. but this could have been any mother. at some point (or - more likely - many), you're going to lose track of your child, because nobody is perfect. and if the zoo had been built properly, then the situation wouldn't have escalated into an emergency.
Something was going to die, and our societies ethics and value system will always prefer a human over a gorilla. Even in the case above where someone wanted to kill themself in a lion enclosure, the zookeepers killed the lions.

I think the zoo is responsible, not to say that any one person or person made a mistake. But it really should have been impossible for a child to get inside. Even if the mother was negligent it still should not have happened. You could have school trips or mentally ill people who also cannot be allowed access to a cage with an animal that whilst it may look cute is great threat to life.

I do like zoos, but I do wonder if they are so appropriate for the 21st century. I think for large mammals you probably need large enclosures with so much security you have to wonder if the economics makes sense - especially in city zoos.
Something was going to die, and our societies ethics and value system will always prefer a human over a gorilla.

yep, that is an apt summary.

hopefully that zoo (and others) re-evaluate the types of enclosures they have so this can't happen again.
I probably dont hate the mother but I do feel angry at her. In her facebook post, she mentioned Accidents do happen but she is happy it turned out okay in the end etc. So I cant help but be angry.. when I heard the news the first time, my immediate reaction was how did the child get in the first place?
Like I said her reaction hasn't helped her.

She cared more about her son than an animal. Probably someone should have stopped her posting on social media, but her initial reaction of "Thank god my son is ok!" is not that awful when you consider she had 10-20 minutes of wonder if he was going to be crushed to death in front of her eyes. I think most people who are condeming her are not really taking the time to consider it from her point of view.
My first instinct was anger at the mother too, but I think anyone who has little children would have told me it's not possible to keep an eye on them every second, and you never know which second could bring some sort of disaster. Should she be punished or fined? I don't know, what would that solve? Hopefully the scare was lesson enough to be more careful in the future. We've all made mistakes. I do hold the zoo responsible, however, for not securing enclosures adequately, especially knowing many of their visitors are going to be small children. But at the end of the day, it was still a tragic accident and string of events that nobody wanted, even if it's human nature to want to "blame" someone.
I've been trying to avoid this whole mess but it's all over every social media that I use. The best response I've read thus far was on Facebook here.
We lost Jim at Paignton Zoo when he was about 5 so that Mother could have easily been me. Shame for the gorilla but I feel it's ultimately the zoos fault as the enclosure was not secure.
I think every parent has lost their child. The idea that a three or four year old can be continually watched or chained to a buggy or reins is crazy.

I suppose the zoo is somewhat at fault, but the wider problem for me is that as a species we are not all that good at living with large mammals that don't serve as foodstuff. The gorilla was valued because it was rare, and it was rare because no-one can really farm them so they just get eaten or have their habitat destroyed.